A Diary Part 5

Thursday April 2nd

It was three weeks ago today that Leo made his speech from Washington and how our world had changed since then. I know that we all have to get used to staying away from people but I find it disturbing that I am taking a wide berth from others when out for a walk and that I am suspicious of everyone I meet when out for a bit of daily exercise. I hate that feeling. It runs against everything we were ever thought growing up.

There are small signs here and there that the approach made by the authorities here in Ireland are working and I hope that is the truth, but there is no one I know who expects that there will be any respite by Easter Sunday. The severe restrictions will last a lot longer than that.

Sport is a thing of the past and for those of us who love it, it’s difficult to live in a world where it simply doesn’t exist. Like many people, I hope and pray for the day when we have plenty to talk about to take our minds of the hum-drum of ordinary life.
But as always it is very important to accentuate the positives. I was extremely proud of our county on Wednesday when hundreds of people stood on the roads between Creggs and Athlone to pay tribute to Conor Connelly as the family made their way to his funeral in County Offaly. I found it a very emotional experience to be honest but it proves that it will take more than this horrible virus to break the community spirit that exists in our midst.

The amount of people in GAA clubs and community organisations who are helping out in their own communities is a credit to them. Elderly people and those who are vulnerable in our society are being looked after which is fantastic.

But spare a thought for all the families who are bereaved at the moment and who cannot have a proper funeral for their loved ones. That is the one of the saddest thing about this crisis. I see that on almost all the death notices over the past few weeks that “a funeral mass will be held at a more appropriate time” . There are so many masses piling up at the moment it is doubtful whether any of them will ever go ahead and that is the brutal reality. The priests are not there to say the masses and a lot of them are over 70 anyway. It is a terribly tough time for families who have lost loved ones.

My heart also goes out to couples who have had to postpone their weddings. I know a good few who have done that already and they deserve their big day out. Hopefully they can have that in the coming months and years.

On the downside I am not usually in the habit of watching Donald Trump on TV but I tuned in to his press conference on Tuesday night and it was simply unbelievable to think that this man is running the United States of America, especially at this time.

Having denied that there was any problem at all with the virus for several weeks, he now he is claiming that he “will save up to two million lives” because of his actions. He says that if there are “only” 200,000 deaths in the USA he will have done “a great job”
“There is no problem with protective equipment for our medical staff. In fact we have piles of respirators” was another thing he said. In the next news clip nurses and doctors were outside a New York hospital banging dustbin lids and drawing attention to the complete lack of protective equipment.”We have been abandoned by our Government “ said one doctor. It’s truly horrendous that Trump is supposed to be leading the fight against this virus in the USA. He cares for nothing except his own ego and getting re-elected.

Back in the real world the exercise is continuing. In fact it is a welcome break from the routine every day and hopefully there will be long-term benefits for us all.

It seems to me that one day rolls into the next and many times every day I find myself wondering what day of the week it is.

Next week is Easter week. In ordinary times we would be looking forward to the long weekend and the celebrations with family and friends.

Now we will be staying away keeping our heads down and trying to survive.

Stay Safe People.

A Diary – Part 6

Monday 6th April

I had to check with the calendar to find out the day and date before I started and when I did it was the day when myself and my wife were due to go on a short holiday for five days.’ I know that there are more important things going on but I doubt if we will get to take that holiday for a couple of years. One casualty of this global upheaval will definitely be foreign travel. But we will get over that.

I know it’s early days yet, but the responsible attitude being shown by most Irish people seems to be paying off. The expectations were that we would have up to 15,000 cases before the end of March but thankfully it is a good bit behind that figure.

But it is a very difficult time for everyone and there is no denying that. This is Easter Week, the high point of the religious year but the churches will be closed. Many people like to attend services on Easter Week but they will have to make do with what’s available online. I know it’s better than nothing but it’s just not the same. I feel sorry for elderly people, many of whom are very religious and who will not be able to partake in the Easter ceremonies this year.

I wish the politicians would hurry up and form a Government and have done with it. To be honest I couldn’t care less who is in charge but if it is Fianna Fail and Fine Gael and others then let them stop posturing and delaying and get on with it. We are facing the biggest crisis in the history of the state and we need a stable Government. The caretaker Government have done well since this pandemic came along but their time has run out and we need leadership now and not in a months’ time.

The good weather has meant that many of us who were not great at taking exercise are out every day now and hopefully when this is over we can continue with that and not fall back into our old ways. The lack of alcohol also means that if we can avoid this virus we should have a much fitter nation when this is all over. But the huge question is when will that be?

Talking to friends and colleagues over the weekend no one really has the answer to that question but one thing that most are agreed on is that the chances of an All-Ireland senior football or hurling championship this summer are remote. Even if we are ready to play matches in July (which is doubtful) will big crowds attend big matches in Thurles, Hyde Park, Clones, Croke Park or any other venue? Without a vaccine there will still be fears about the virus and people over 60 and over 70 in particular will be told to stay away. Others would be very cautious about big crowds.

Would it be possible to televise all games? Very doubtful, especially with the current broadcasting arrangements in place. It would be my opinion that the GAA will be able to go ahead with the club championships around the country later in the year but the major championships will be very difficult to run.

Other sports will be in the same position however the GAA championships are the biggest sporting event we have here every summer . The GAA are in a very difficult position with regard to this. In 2019 they took in 36.9 million Euro in gate receipts. If there were no championships this year it would represent a massive loss for the association. I would love to hear what readers think about that.

With regard to pubs and restaurants, a lot of people I have spoken to say that it will be the 1st June before there is any movement on relaxing restrictions in that regard. Again, that’s only an opinion but in the current climate it is very hard to see any change in that regard for at least another month.

It was only two weeks ago that Boris Johnson told us at a press conference with a smirk on his face that he ‘had shaken hands with many patients who had the corona virus’. Now he has been admitted to hospital having been unable to shake off the virus at home, and over the weekend his pregnant partner has revealed that she too has the virus. The Health Minister the Chief Medical Officer and Prince Charles have also had the virus. It’s a sign to us all that this virus is no respecter of race, creed or status.

I also have great sympathy for our young people many of whom are at home all day now as third level colleges are shut. For most of them their friends are very important to them and for the past three weeks they have had to comply with the regulations and stay away even though they know that their chances of becoming ill even if they get the disease is low.

I have been trying to keep my ‘coronavirus news intake’ to an hour a day. It’s enough. It’s far too depressing to listen to any more than that. I am listening to music and playing a few tunes on Facebook. We all have ways of trying to cope with this horrible situation.

I can’t wait for the day when I can go into the local pub and chat about the club match that we were at over a couple of pints with friends. I will never take that for granted again.

Stay Safe People.

A Diary Part 7

Friday 10th April

The weather has been so good over the past few weeks that sometimes one can forget the mayhem that’s going on in the world around us. We should be grateful for this good weather as I dread to think what it would be like if it was raining and miserable outside. It makes what’s going on a little more bearable.

Another positive that we can take out of this week is that it appears that the efforts being made by the public in terms of observing the regulations, are beginning to work. I presume that later today another two weeks of the partial lockdown will be announced but hopefully after that they can start to look at a relaxation of some kind.

The community spirit that exists here in rural Ireland is also to the fore and can be seen every day of the week in every area. On Tuesday morning I was in Ballyleague as the St Faithleach’s and Cashel GAA clubs paid tribute to the late Henry Kenny. His funeral cortege drove around the St Faithleach’s complex and pitches, and hundreds of people were there to pay their respects. It was a lovely thing to see and be a part of.

But it’s not all sweetness and light as we all know. I know that there are almost half a million people like me, but it is very frustrating and unsettling not to have work to go to every day. That has not happened to me since I was 18 years old and despite trying to fill the day with exercise, jobs at home and other stuff it is very hard to get used to not working and having a job to go to every day.

This is Easter weekend and a lot of people particularly the elderly will miss the religious events but those who have access to the internet will be able to watch the various ceremonies today tomorrow and Sunday. At least that’s something.

The apalling death toll in the UK and USA is very hard to look at every evening on TV and the people of those countries are paying dearly for the failure of their leaders to act in time. We have much to give out about here in this country when it comes to politicians and leadership over the years but since this crisis has started the caretaker Government has done very well. But as I said here on Monday, it’s time we had a real Government to take the reins now.

This coming Monday between 3pm and 4pm I am back on the radio as The Roscommon Lions Club are producing a programme which seeks to highlight a lot of the positive stories in the community. I will be on every second day and along with Dan Dooner it will be a chance to chat to some interesting local people and have a bit of fun in these very challenging times. It’s on Ros FM Community radio which is on 94.6 FM. Sure won’t it use up a few hours in terms of preparation etc and the Lions club have to be complimented on their initiative.

But for those of us who love to go for a pint and a chat and for those of us who love sport, those pursuits look a long long way off as we sit here on this Good Friday like no other.

But we have to keep in our thoughts and prayers the people in our health service who are on the frontline dealing with this disease every day of the week and also all the people in shops and in the supply chain who are making sure there is food on the shelves for us all. We will be forever in their debt.

A Happy Easter to all. Chat soon.

Stay Safe People.

A Diary Part 8

Tuesday 14th April

Little did I know when I started this diary that I would get to part 8 and it looks like it could well get as far as part 16 the way things are going. The new ‘normal’ is still extremely difficult to accept. I am one who just cannot sleep in the mornings so I am up early and it makes the day very long indeed. However I have to say I love the mornings and the weather has been very good over the past few weeks.

There have been a few upsides to this whole disaster. Like many people I have continued the walking, (something that I wasn’t doing) and have managed about 2 miles a day over the past month. My alcohol consumption has plummeted to almost zero too although there is probably a balance to be tsruck there in terms of one’s mental health! It would be lovely to have a chance of a few pints and a chat but that it a long way off as far as I can see.

Not having any work to go to is still the biggest change as far as I am concerned although to be involved with a new radio programme on the local community station Ros FM has certainly taken my mind off things for a few hours in the day. Roscommon Lions Club should be warmly congratulated for their initiative. I think them for asking me to get involved.

Everyone is watching loads of TV now. It’s all a matter of taste, but over the past week I watched an excellent documentary on the BBC about former heart-throb pop star David Cassidy, Match of the Day Gold on Saturday during the day (World Cup) and on Saturday night (Premier League matches) , All Ireland Gold on TG4 and I even watched ‘Michael Collins’ again on Monday night. Up to four weeks ago I was someone who watched only news and sports programmes and documentaries on TV. How times change.

The heroes of our lives now are not Lionel Messi, or Jurgen Klopp or Cristiano Ronando or the Kardashians they are the doctors and nurses and all the health workers who are on the front line fighting this horrible disease. Everyone knows someone or has a family members or members involved in the health service and my own sister is involved in that battle in the Beaumont Hospital.We should pray for them every day.

But there are also heroes in the Gardai, Fire services in the prisons in our shops and vital services who are keeping us all fed and looked after as this situation unfolds. I hope that all this is remembered when this awful situation is over. We have had to re-calibrate what and who are important in our lives since this thing started and maybe that is not a bad thing.

I read with incredulity today an article suggesting that there may well have to be a knockout GAA championship this year. A big meeting is being held on Friday but I simply cannot see the GAA being able to stage any kind of a championship this summer. Without a vaccine for covid-19 how are crowds expected to gather for games? People will be very reluctant and with good reason too.

Remember too that we would be expecting 50 young people to gather in dressing rooms, they would be running, sweating and in very close physical contact. If even one of those lads or girls in hurling or football or camogie got sick ad died it would be a disaster.

By the time August comes it may be possible to have club championships under restricted conditions but it will be very difficult for the GAA or indeed any sport to hold any public events where there would be big crowds expected.

I hope I am wrong because as a sports fanatic I cannot wait for sport to return but there is a bigger picture to be looked at and I will be amazed if there is any meaningful inter-county GAA action before 2021.

In the meantime we have to try to stay sane. We have to keep in our minds that this will pass at some stage and that if we do as we are told we may get out the other end without too much damage done. But it’s too early to be optimistic yet.

Stay Safe People